When The Illusionist ended, it felt like there just wasn’t enough of the theme. Just how perfect was this movie? Period piece, great cinematography, great editing, colors, contrasts, actors, script, plot, revelation and it was all about a turn of the century magician. Here’s an era that hasn’t been explored much in Cinema. It got a 5 outta 5 from this reviewer.
Thanks to Mr. Nolan we now have another magical masterpiece to add to the roster. Now a quick a dirty background check on Christopher Nolan reveals his credits; director and writer of the brilliant dissection of an amnesic man’s search for his wife’s killer, in Memento. If you haven’t seen Memento, go rent the DVD right now – the movie’s story rolls backward but the DVD has an option to watch the movie from the beginning of the story to its end. Nolan also wrote and directed what this reviewer qualified as the greatest super-hero movie of all time, Batman Begins.
The Prestige gathers Batman Begins’ two stars, Christian Bale and Michael Caine and thankfully forgot to include the dreadful Katie Holmes. So with the perfect trifecta of players known to work well together, Nolan adds another player, Hugh Jackman, aka The Wolverine. But the superb actor roster does not end here. Andy Serkis of Gollum fame plays the eccentric assistant to the even more eccentric real-world historical figure, Tesla, played by the best actor to play such freaks, and a true Rock God, David Bowie, who is barely recognizable in the his first scenes. And of course the feminine presence is filled by current Thinking Man’s Goddess, Scarlett Johansson as the lovely assistant to our dueling magicians. You see the story isn’t plain, it’s quite complicated.
Two aspiring magicians, are hired as crowd plants for the star magician’s tricks that involve the use of spectators. Here’s the setup. We have an aging magician touring around Europe and his trustee engineer Cutter, or ingénieur, as he tells the court, played by Michael Caine, brilliantly of course. There’s of course the lovely assistant who happens to be the wife of crowd plant, Robert Angier (Jackman). During the preparation for the water tank escape, it is Angier’s job to tie her legs and Alfred Borden’s (Bale) responsibility to tie her hands. On one fateful evening, even after being told not to use certain not, Borden does so. The assistant unable to escape drowns in the tank. This drives a rift between Angier and Borden and in sue turns them into rivals; a vindictive rivalry that goes beyond the ends of science, physics and ethics.